VANCOUVER, CANADA AND NEW YORK -
The distinguishing property of humans is to search for and to follow after truth.
Cicero the human being (106-43 BC) was a celebrated politician, orator, and writer; his historical and philosophical importance is still being debated 2,000 years later. Cicero the computer program, which was announced in an article in Science on November 22, is a powerful artificial intelligence (AI) system that plays the game Diplomacy. A few days later its implications for AI are not yet clear and may not be for a long time.
Diplomacy, a complex game that requires extensive communication, has been recognized as a challenge for AI for at least the past 50 years. To win, a player must not only play strategically, but also form alliances, negotiate, persuade, threaten, and occasionally deceive. The game therefore presents challenges for AI that go far beyond those faced either by systems that play games like Go and chess, or by chatbots that engage in dialog in less complex settings.
The results themselves are, without question, genuinely impressive. Although the AI is not yet at or even near world champion level, the system was able to integrate language with game play in an online version of blitz Diplomacy, ranking within the top 10 percent of a mixed crowd of professional and amateurs, with play and language use that were natural enough that only one human player suspected it of being a bot.